NASCAR Finish Line: Analyzing the best Group 2 play for Las Vegas

RJ Kraft
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NASCAR Finish Line: Analyzing the best Group 2 play for Las Vegas

NASCAR Finish Line, a free-to-play gaming app from Penn National Gaming, has launched for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. Each week, there will be six groups of six drivers for the race ahead. Users will predict which driver will finish first among each group, and then also the overall race winner for a chance to win $50,000 each week if all seven scenarios are correctly selected.

RELATED: Download NASCAR Finish Line

The second of six groups for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) features Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, William Byron and Christopher Bell. The rookie Bell is at a disadvantage in our analysis because he just made his first NASCAR Cup Series start, but he does have three top fives in four Xfinity Series starts at the track and has proven to be a quick study at previous stops on the NASCAR national series ladder.

Another interesting factoid amid an offseason that saw a number of crew chief changes: All six drivers have the same crew chiefs as last year and none have won at Las Vegas in the sport’s top series.

For a stats look, NASCAR.com has compiled the finishes of each driver at both Las Vegas races in 2019, their 1.5-mile results in 2019 and their last five races at Las Vegas. Why a heavy emphasis on 2019 stats? That’s because the 1.5-mile rules package is pretty much the same as last year. For Bell, we have taken the results from 2019 for the car he is driving in this year — the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota.

From those results, we’ve created a ranking in each category of 1 (best) to 6 (worst) and then tallied up the totals to see who is the best option. The results of the highest-finishing driver in each category is bolded in green.

*Note: The numbers associated with Bell here are from the No. 95 car (driven by Matt DiBenedetto) in 2019 and over the No. 95 car’s last five races at Las Vegas. Average finish numbers for Bowman and Byron are based on four Las Vegas starts.

Driver Las Vegas-1 (’19) Las Vegas-2 (’19) 1.5-mile results (’19) Las Vegas last 5 Total
Denny Hamlin 2 (finished 10th) 5 (finished 15th) 3 (avg. finish: 11.8) 3 (avg. finish: 16.0) 13
Chase Elliott 1 (finished 9th) 1 (finished 4th) 2 (avg. finish 10.9) 4 (avg. finish: 17.2) 8
Kyle Larson 4 (finished 12th) 4 (finished 8th) 5 (avg. finish: 17.2) 1 (avg. finish: 5.4) 14
Alex Bowman 3 (finished 11th) 2 (finished 6th) 1 (avg. finish: 8.7) 2 (avg. finish: 13.0) 8
William Byron 5 (finished 16th) 3 (finished 7th) 4 (avg. finish: 14.5) 6 (avg. finish: 21.8) 18
Christopher Bell* 6 (finished 21st) 6 (finished 21st) 6 (avg. finish: 23.5) 5 (avg. finish: 18.2) 23

Based on the chart, Elliott or Bowman are the clear-cut picks. I’d lean toward the recency bias of Elliott finishing better in both Las Vegas races last year as my tiebreaker. But given Elliott’s popularity and the odds that he will be a favored choice, you could make a pick against the field and go against the grain and take Bowman.